Back in the day, when I was first learning sales and marketing, customer service was the be-all and end-all. It was the foundation of everything we were taught and was an essential cornerstone of every business strategy.
Your customers are, after all, the people who actually keep your business going.
It didn’t matter whether you were selling apples, or checking someone into your new luxury hotel, if the customer service was missing, then you could say goodbye to the future of your company.
Today, this concept has gone a step beyond that. Customer experience is the new name of the game, and it is certainly something that you, as a business owner, need to get your head around. If you are serving people in the hospitality industry, or any industry really, this is essential and should be sewn into the seam of everything you do.
So here are two really important things to help get you up to scratch when it comes to Customer Experience.
1. It’s not just about the people greeting your customers when they walk through your door.
This is what customer service was based around. Greeting people at the counter, or looking after them in your restaurant. With new digital technology and so much data now available about customer purchasing patterns, it is increasingly obvious that an amazing customer experience starts from the very moment a person connects with your business.
This means that you need to be aware of all the steps your customers go through. From the moment they engage with you on a social media platform, to the process you use to funnel them through to enquiring or make a reservation. Then of course, the experience they have when they are with you in person, and the engagement they then have with you after they leave your business and get back to their homes and lives. Each of these moments are pivotal in creating an amazing experience.
What I recommend here is that you do a brain storm with your team (or yourself if you are flying solo) and write down every single moment you can think of that a potential client or customer is connecting with your business. In marketing terms, we call this ‘customer touch points’ along a ‘customer journey’. It is an amazing exercise and very beneficial for developing a good solid sales and marketing strategy. There are so many moments along the way that you can ‘wow’ people on their customer journey – not just in how you serve the coffee in those fancy cups at your restaurant.
2. Your competitors are probably not doing it very well
Let’s talk competitive advantage here for a minute. You are looking at price points, fancy graphic design, or amazing numbers of Instagram followers… but have you thought about setting yourself apart from your competitors by providing an amazing customer experience throughout the buying journey, and especially when they are engaging your services?
I have travelled half the world this year, and spent so much time in hotels, cafes, restaurants and many other associated businesses in the travel industry. I can tell you first hand that customer experience is missing from majority of the businesses that I have had contact with. People in business (well in the one’s I have travelled to, at least) just don’t seem to care anymore. Or their staff don’t, so perhaps it is also an issue with training and company culture.
Sure, I am not staying 5+ stars in hotels, and not eating at michelin and star restaurants, but why does an amazing experience have to be reserved for only those people paying top dollar? Why can’t a 3 or 4-star hotel offer an amazing experience? You may not be able to afford the glitz and the glamour, but communicating more effectively (and in a friendly manner) rarely inflates costs dramatically. Try pouring a glass of water at a table when your customers first arrive in your restaurant and ask them how their day has been. Offer to help them with their bags as they arrive to your hotel, and ask them how their flight was. This kinds of stuff will have your customers singing your praises to all of their friends, and will build customer loyalty.
From my experience this is one area that you can very quickly rise to the top of the mountain in the middle of a competitive market for very little additional costs involved.